I was supposed to take today off, so I could go to the dentist and trick-or-treat with the grandsons.
Well, I'm still going to do both, but will work, too. My boss is on a two-week leave of absence; one of my colleagues is on vacation, and another just told us yesterday that she is going to spend the day in the hospital today while her mother is having surgery.
That leaves me the only admin; and we can't all be gone at the same time. What if some data blows up?
So I'm going to work until 2, so I can be home in time for the trick-or-treating. And I'll walk to the dentist's appointment at 11 -- not so happy that it's raining, though. It's about a 20-minute walk. I decided not to drive because 1) it's raining, 2) the free lot is so far away, and in the opposite direction of the dentist, and 3) you can never count on traffic moving, but the train is mostly on time. And 4) it costs to drive, but the train ride is already paid for.
I hope it will be quiet.
My only spending yesterday was some candy at CVS - $5. I am going to give my grandsons little treat bags (as if they won't get enough already!) Plus, I'll have a little bit on hand just in case trick-or-treaters come to my door after I get home. Unlikely, but possible.
I heard a crash in the night last night -- loud enough to wake me up and get me up to investigate. I found nothing. So perhaps it was outside, or in another unit? An All-Hallow's eve "bump in the night?"
I made the pork cutlet dinner last night, and there's enough pork left for a sandwich for tomorrow's lunch. Yay!
My BFF verified she will arrive on Saturday morning. I think I will table the seafood lasagna for another time. I'm already stressed thinking of the stuff I have to do before she gets here. If we end up eating at home, I'll make grilled cheese or something simple.
Archive for October, 2013
I was supposed to take today off, so I could go to the dentist and trick-or-treat with the grandsons.
Just found a penny on my walk in this morning. I was just thinking it had been a while since I found some change!
My only spending yesterday was a $2 contribution for Halloween treats for our student workers.
I made a great supper last night! Chicken & onion teriyaki sandwich -- tasted just like Subway! Basically I just sauteed some onion, added cooked chicken cubes and teriyaki sauce and heated it up -- then served on a French roll. The best part is I have another one for lunch today, and one more serving in the freezer.
For tonight I am thawing a pork cutlet with Cajun seasoning -- I'll saute that and make some mashed potatoes, using up the garlic butter I made earlier in the week for garlic bread. And I'll make a side of carrots as well.
For the rest of the week, I have the makings for tuna salad, grilled cheese, and omelets. And this weekend I plan to make seafood lasagna -- but with my BFF here, it might not happen. We might be out all day!
Yesterday I did one load of laundry for $1.50, and I sent $100 to my sister for her 70th birthday.
It's a little more than two weeks till payday, but it looks like I am on target to transfer $800 to savings. Fingers crossed that nothing comes up!
I have decided to take Halloween Day off so I can go trick-or-treating with the grandsons. I have a dentist's appointment that day as well. So tempted to put on some fake vampire teeth, but would not spend the money, even for a good laugh!
I won't have to take vacation time, as I still have a comp day coming for my work during Homecoming.
BFF is coming to visit this weekend! If she doesn't cancel, which she is prone to do! Her birthday is next week, so I will have to get her present together. I have a book and bookmark ready to wrap, but I think there is something in the gift stash as well. It seems I picked up something during the year -- she is so easy to buy for, since she likes and appreciates thrift-store finds. I wish everyone on my list were that way!
I am also in the throes of planning our annual girls' weekend. I just made the reservations for tea at the Drake Hotel -- a tradition. And my friend in Hyde Park has offered to let us stay at her house. That will be fun -- it is an old house, new to her. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure it's very posh. We haven't talked about it yet, but we may do lunch at the Grand Luxe -- that seems to be becoming a tradition, too! The rest will be shopping -- but I do a good job of just enjoying the scenery while they shop. We are good friends, but we are definitely in different economic tiers!
And of course I'm also thinking about Thanksgiving. It is always at my brother's, but I always have to call and make sure it's still on. I don't know what we would do if he said no! It looks like my sister and my Florida son will not be coming. We will still have a good-sized group, with all my nieces and nephews and their children. And I have to think about how to handle my other son's birthday, which falls right on Thanksgiving Day. I'm sure my DIL has some ideas!
During my weekend, my mind is so far away from work that I didn't even think about finding out about the budget cuts this morning. But I opened my email this morning and there they were. Not draconian. First of all, there will be no changes to the retirement plan for the rest of FY14, but there will be changes next year. They will do a study this year and implement reforms. Second, there will be no raises for anyone through FY14. Third, we will be encouraged to move to HMO plans. (I'll have to find out if they offer an HMO plan for MY area, not the local area). However, since I will start Medicare next August, this is not a huge concern to me. Fourth, a hiring freeze will be in effect for one year. The potential early retirement plan was tabled. There will be three task forces charged to generate ideas for increasing student enrollment and retention, increasing the international student population, and generating innovations in academic and administrative programs. In addition there will be a Financial Working Group charged with cutting expenses by an additional one-half million this year, and to review compensation, tuition remission, and retirement benefit with an eye toward more changes in FY15.
So, it sounds like my job is safe, my retirement won't be affected till my final year on the job, I'll have to make do with an annoying HMO for a few months, and I wasn't expecting a raise anyway.
My weekend spending:
Fast food - $5
Groceries - $30
Garage Sale - $.50
Movie - $8
Wal-Mart - $21
Laundry - $3
The fast food was a bag of chips and a drink in the station.
Groceries included olive oil, tuna, milk, eggs, wine, carrots, muffins, creamer, cheddar cheese, teriyaki sauce, oatmeal cookies, and paper towels.
At the garage sale I bought a fancy gift box and and a bag of artificial cranberries.
The movie was Captain Phillips. (Fantastic!)
At Wal-Mart I bought a large plastic bin, a turntable for my spices, and a bag of socks for my granddaughter (coordinating with the two outfits I bought her for her birthday).
I drove to work yesterday, as planned, and dropped my car off at the auto clinic for an oil change. It was a short walk to work -- just a little farther than it is from the train station. After work I picked it up - $25. The I went to Great Clips and got my hair cut for $12 and paid a tip of $3. I had a different stylist -- now I know there are three I like at that location. (If the other two are still there -- I know how they move around!)
Then I went to Goodwill. I must have spent at least an hour there (being in no hurry -- the later the better when you're driving in Chicago traffic). I spent $21 in total. I bought some ultra cheap Halloween decorations -- a two-sided poster for the window, some garlands, a pumpkin candle, a couple of treat bags and spooky tumblers for my grandsons. Then it was on to the clothing. I found the main item I was looking for -- a pair of corduroy pants. I looked at the sweaters, and didn't find one, but I did find a Talbots turtleneck and a classy sweatshirt that will nicely bridge the gap between cleaned-up and dressed-down. I found a beautiful little pottery bowl which will go in the gift stash, and -- the buy that really excited me -- a wonderful, unusual Santa for my collection. Hand-carved and wearing green instead of red. Love it!
Then I filled up my tank, successfully picking the cheapest place in town - $3.33 a gallon - $36 total. And then, because it was 7:35 and I was hungry, I stopped at McDonalds and got dinner for $4.
'Twas a happy day! I was so pumped, I had the energy to empty and refill my dishwasher when I got home -- a chore that has stumped me all week!
Tomorrow I am going to breakfast with the fam at my ex's house -- his sister is visiting; she was a college friend. And the grandsons are sleeping over Saturday night. So in between I have to fit in grocery shopping and laundry. But as I said, I love getting stuff done.
Event one: the workshop on saving & budgeting. It was a pretty thorough overview of cutting costs, how and where to put away savings, how to create a budget. Nothing new to me; I'm sure it was quite helpful to others. The presenter shared a story about her Irish-born mother who grew up poor. She's been picking up coins (she didn't say how long) and she has a stash exceeding $2,000! The presenter was very strong on the power of saving small amounts of money whenever and wherever you can.
Event two: the budget crisis at work. Not a presentation -- mostly it was a chance for faculty, staff and students to speak up. Most of what they had to say was nonsense, I thought. Everyone was protecting their own turf -- very little was offered in the way of thoughtful solutions. From the tenor of the discussion, I'm pretty sure that there will be changes in the retirement contribution and in the medical plan. We know for sure that conferences and the like are banned, except for those who are leading or presenting. I think, as Treasurer of my professional organization, I count as a "leader" so I should get a green light for the events I have to attend. We'll see. I may end up having to have the board pay for my expenses instead.
I bought my train pass yesterday ($105) and this morning I bought a $50 Kohl's card through MyPoints, which will add 300 points to the 6000+ I already have. The Kohl's card is for my son's birthday -- I figure he can buy himself a sweater, or jeans or something.
I have four birthdays in November! My son, my grandson, my granddaughter, and my best friend. And then the next month, Christmas! I am partially ready for all of them.
Another no-spend day. This is getting downright boring!
I WILL be spending later today, when I buy next month's train pass.
I'm going to a financial seminar later this morning; it's sponsored by a local bank and is called "Saving Money and Successful Budgeting." I don't expect I will really learn anything new, but since saving money is pretty much my hobby I thought I'd check it out.
I notice there are no longer "refreshments provided." It used to be that every HR event provided a free lunch. Those were the days! Now we are all about cost-cutting.
The town hall meeting about our College budget is this afternoon -- so I am going to have a day immersed in budget talk! I heard another rumor -- that early retirement will be encouraged. Yikes! I can't see any way I could do it -- I hope I am not going to get a nudge in that direction. I can't imagine what incentive they could provide that would make a difference.
I took Petunia's advice and had a bit of cheese with my muffin this morning. Since it was a raisin bran muffin, I feel quite full!
I'm starting to plan a drive-to-work day. It's about time for a haircut, and it's past time for an oil change. It's easier to do both in my work town. Plus I can visit my favorite Goodwill and fill up with cheap gas! Have to decide which is the best day. Can't put it off too long, as my bangs are in my eyes!
Yesterday was a another no-spend day. I'm doing a good job of avoiding the fast food at the station. Bringing my own muffin every morning helps. Also, I try to eat a snack before I leave work for the day so I don't arrive at the station starved and vulnerable. And I make myself just walk directly from one train to another, even though I have to sit in an empty train for a while. As long as I have a good book to read, I'm okay.
It turned cold(er) this morning; I wore a hat and gloves, though I noticed most others did not. They must be of hardier stock. At least it is warmer indoors now, both at home and work. The boilers are officially on! I hate those days when it's cold outside, but there's no heat inside because it's not yet "time" to turn it on. BRRrrrr.
The College is sifting through ideas on saving money. The faculty had their own closed meeting yesterday afternoon. I'd love to know what was said. There are all kinds of rumors floating around -- they will tamper with medical insurance, they will tamper with retirement contributions, blah, blah, blah. I'll be curious to hear what the real considerations are. There is another town hall meeting tomorrow, but we won't know anything for sure until the trustees meet at the end of the month.
I would feel more nervous if I weren't so close to retirement, but I feel I can probably weather anything that's thrown at me now.
Did a little bit of shopping this weekend - nothing big, but funny how the little things add up. I began the weekend spending $4.50 on three loads of laundry. Then went to Home Depot and spent $9 on a freestanding cabinet shelf and some suction cups. The cabinet shelf will allow me to store more mugs. The suctions cups will allow me to hang a stained glass piece on the bathroom window. I also bought two sink stoppers, different sizes, and found out that I need the size in between, which I will have to get online. (For $8, highway robbery! Old sink, odd size.) So the sink stoppers were returned.
On to Target, where I bought sunglasses for $14 - having finally admitted to myself that I will never find that nice pair I bought in Boston! And I bought some little Command hooks to hang my necklaces on my bedroom wall. They get all tangled in my jewelry box, so this will be much better. The hooks were $8. I have many more, should I choose to hang little things all over the place!
I stopped at Aldi to get kitty litter for $5.
Then did my grocery shopping at Jewel, for $32. I'm experiencing "item creep." I can't keep it down to ten any more, probably because my freezer and pantry supplies are starting to diminish. Here's what the $32 bought:
Head of lettuce
On Sunday I went to Kohl's with a 30% off coupon. I was looking for bras and I found two on the clearance rack. Wasn't easy I'll tell you! There were only two my size, and it turned out that one wasn't even on sale - evidently it was placed on the clearance rack by mistake. Should have checked that before buying, but I'm not going to bother to return. It was still a good price, especially with the discount. I spent $24 on the two bras. I also bought some clothes for my granddaughter's birthday - a dress, a T-shirt, and pants for $18.
I went to my son's house for dinner last night, and I took them the spaghetti sauce with ground beef I had been thawing for my own dinner. They can use it later in the week. I've had a lot of meals there recently and felt the need to share! They served "taco pie" - ironically, taco meat was the other item I was thawing for myself. Oh well, I really like Mexican food; I don't mind having it again.
I found .15! Four pennies in a parking lot, one at the grocery, and a dime at the station!
My boss started a two-week leave of absence today; she needs to get her mother into an assisted living setup. It may sound nice to be boss-less for two weeks, but I have a fear that a lot of things will fall on me that would otherwise fall on her. We'll see. I'm braced for impact!
I looked at my net worth through the years yesterday -- I've only been keeping track since 2008. Well, I actually have kept track longer, but I lost all my data in computer crash. Anyway....
In 2008 my NW was $184,222. The following year it sank to $146,707 -- that reflects the hit my retirement fund took after the economic downturn. In 2010 it rose to $160,214, then to $178,681 in 2011. In 2012 I had almost recovered -- $182,030. But then I bought my condo, which took it down to today's $172,546.
It is not much, not at my time of life. But I know the reasons I ended up this way. I was divorced when I was a stay-at-home mom, and it took me years to recover economically. My ex paid me $100 a week in child support and that was it. The first job I got, I remember that the salary was $11,000. About ten years after my divorce I had finally worked my way up to a job paying $40,000. (I also wasted money on taking classes toward a teaching certificate, which I did not complete -- long story). And I had a debt problem -- not so much from frivolous spending, but from hand-to-mouth living.
I decided along the way that the solution for me was to share housing with my cousin, which turned out to be a big mistake, financially as well as emotionally. She lived in a different state, and I sold my house and took early retirement in order to move in with her. Then the economy crashed, and suddenly I was decimating my meager retirement fund just to live. I wasn't able to find a job in the new area -- not even temporary work.
So I made a cross-country move to take the job I am in now. It only pays $40,000. I have had either no raises or minimal raises in the five years I've been here, because the College is struggling financially. At my age I am just glad to have a job.
But I do worry about the future. I'm going to be very dependent on social security. My plan is to take my ex's benefit for the first four years and then to switch to mine when I am 70. The first four years will be very lean. At age 70, I won't be rich, but my income will be fairly close to what I am earning now, and it will be doable.
When I look at the net worth of others, and read the articles about retirement, I feel like a failure. All of the articles pretty much say my net worth is not nearly enough.
I keep telling myself that at least I don't have any debt -- other than my mortgage. My mortgage payment is low and the interest is only 3%. And I have frugal skills and self-discipline that I have learned through the years that will help me stretch what I have. But is it enough?
I will soon see. I am retiring for the second time in two years. I am not going to attempt to work any longer than that at this job, for many reasons. The long commute, for one, my aging brain in a youth-oriented profession, my general disenchantment with the work. I hope, after retirement, I can find a part-time job close to home that will give me a little income stream. But I am not counting on it -- I see how many people are looking for the same thing. It's not an easy market, not yet.
On the lucky side, I bought my condo at exactly the right time, and it was in move-in condition. I will be secure in this home as long as I can pay the mortgage, assessment fees, and taxes. I have easy access to incredible public transportation, so when my car dies, I won't have to replace it. My son is close by, and so is a nephew. I'm in good health.
I hope all of you will be around, because I'm going to keep on blogging about it! I can't even express how much help it has been to me to be able to talk about money with like-minded people, and to take advantage of your sage advice!
I found another penny in the station this morning. It kind of makes the early morning routine less painful if I find a coin! A little upper.
My only spending yesterday was $1.50 for laundry. And I bought $10 worth of quarters at the bank, but that's not spending, that's just transfer of money.
Several birthdays are coming up -- my sister's, and my grandson's. For my sister's, I will just send money. For my grandson's, I just need to buy one more small gift. I ordered a couple of items from Amazon, but they look small. I thought I might try to find a book about birds -- they are his new passion. He wants to be an ornithologist! I wish I could find more hawk feathers for him -- he was more excited about that than any gift I have ever bought for him!
Then there is Thanksgiving to think about. If my Florida son can find a decent fare, I will help him get up here for Thanksgiving. Then there will be the possible cost of a hotel room -- sometimes there is room in someone's house, and sometimes there is not. We are a far-flung family, and it's always a bit up in the air how many will come. Thank goodness my brother, a former chef, is very adept at handling a big dinner under changing circumstances.
Logged a no-spend day yesterday, and found a penny besides!
Today is payday, and I transferred $200 into savings. I double-paid my mortgage and then rounded up to $700. (Yes, that's how low my mortgage payment is!)
My Discover bill was under $700, something of a record!
I added $70 to my checking account -- I had subtracted a PayPal charge that actually came out of my credit card instead of my bank account. So I am no money ahead, but it kind of feels like it!
I will probably not be buying a plane ticket for my sister's birthday, but I will send her some money. She can decide how to use it. It may be kind of small Thanksgiving, because it's likely that my Florida son will not be able to come either.
Both of my sons are affected by the government shutdown. One is not working -- the other, I found out today, cannot get certified to train flyers until his test is officially graded. So he is basically not working either. I'm afraid so much productivity has been lost because of this little stunt. I hope a resolution is reached soon!
Lots of eating out --
I bought pretzels ($4) on the way home Friday night. On Saturday I treated my son and grandsons at a Greek diner ($30). On Sunday I bought a McDonalds lunch and a Dunkin' Donuts dessert for my grandsons ($13). We were at the downtown station -- they finally got their train ride, which was wildly appreciated, especially since we got to ride on the upper level!
I told my son I wanted to stay in my condo for as long as I could, and he understood.
I did some laundry ($1.50), bought some gas ($20). I paid a medical bill ($21). Spent $24 on pet supplies (cat food, cat litter, algae wafers).
I earned $5 more from Swagbucks, and $10 from Discover.
Grocery shopping -- I think I have to change the plan to 11 items. It seems that's what I always get! Anyway, I was born on the 11th, so I've always considered it my lucky number.
Here's what I got:
Total cost - $33.
I rescued the food my grandsons didn't eat at the Greek diner -- two lunches for me!
I split the ground beef I bought into three one-pound sections -- made one section into burgers, cooked one with spaghetti sauce and the other with taco seasoning. Froze them all for another day.
I cleaned the fish tank and used the water I took out on the flowers.
Can't think of anything else, but I felt like I was on my game!
Just logged a few more expenditures I had forgotten about -- $5 for a prescription, and $7 for earring backs. I have a lovely pair of loop earrings that threaten to get lost because the loop works its way out of my earlobe. So I got some plastic backs that are said to help keep them in place. Of course I had to buy -- how many? I didn't even count. Let's just say I'm covered for the rest of my life.
The webhosting payment issue I talked about yesterday was resolved today. The account holder was actually the former president's brother -- he emailed me the login information and I was able to get in, pay with the org's credit card, and add myself as a contact. Whew! Disaster averted. There would have been some unhappy people if the website went down on Monday.
I'm so glad it's Friday. Another week under my belt.
We were scheduled to have guest speakers on social security and retirement here on campus, but the event was cancelled due to the government shutdown. I was hoping to get more information about the timing of my retirement. My understanding is that social security benefits don't begin until three months after filing. So does that mean you should file three months prior to your last day of work? I can't seem to find that answer anywhere. Maybe some of you know!
It's been a very busy work day; hardly time to think of money at all!
The College is thinking of money, though. We're facing a budget shortfall from falling enrollment. It's keeping our VP of Finance up at night. At the end of the month, the Board of Trustees will decide on cost-cutting measures, but we were assured today that there would be no layoffs, and that the President will make good on his promise for a 2% raise.
My treasurer job just became a little harder today, too. I got an email from our former board president that our web hosting will be cut off if we do not pay -- but the bill is charged to her credit card, which is expired. I am asked to "fix." However, I cannot get into the site -- I don't know the id and password, and the ones I was given don't work. The customer service at the site can't give me the login information for security reasons. So, for security reasons, they won't get paid. They are contacting the account owner (not even sure who that is, but I suspect the former president, who hasn't answered any emails since she laid that bombshell on me). If she tells them I am okay, I guess I will then get access and be able to pay. Good grief. If only I could write them a check! But they apparently have no business address -- no business phone either.